New BlackBerry to Launch in January
Research In Motion Ltd. RIM said Monday it will launch its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones world-wide on Jan. 30, setting a firm deadline for the devices and new operating system—upon which the company has staked its future.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said the launch event will happen simultaneously in multiple countries. At the event, RIM is expected to disclose details like model names, pricing, carrier partnership and, crucially, when the devices will actually hit store shelves and start generating revenue for RIM.
RIM executives have said in the past that it will launch two phones at first, one all-touchscreen phone and one phone with a physical keyboard.
After more than a year of delays for the phone, many analysts had grown weary of trying to guess when the device might finally debut. While RIM said it would bring out the device in the first quarter of next year, the company had been short on details, until Monday.
RIM is counting on its BB10 devices to counter the onslaught of Apple Inc.’s iPhone and devices based on Google Inc.’s Android operating system, which have gobbled up most of the smartphone market share RIM once controlled. This year RIM had just a 4.3% share of the global smartphone market, according to IDC, a market the company once dominated.
The launch date could boost investor sentiment, as analysts and shareholders have questioned whether RIM can deliver on its promise to debut the phone in next year’s first quarter. While it will miss the holiday shopping season, the launch is well inside the first quarter target set by RIM.
Last month, when RIM said it had delivered the BB10 phones to over 50 carriers for testing—another key step in the road to a product launch, RIM stock jumped 10%.
RIM has been previewing a prototype of the phone to developers, partners, journalists and other potential users in recent months. Most analysts who have seen a glimpse of the BB10 operating system give it positive marks, but say that even with a strong product, RIM may be too late to catch up with Apple and Google.